Aria has been a long time favorite series of mine. Not only do I hold it as one of my favorite anime of all time, but it’s also one of my highly rated series of all time with each of its three seasons either scoring a 7 or an 8 out of 10 with its last season scoring a perfect 10 out of 10. The reason why I value Aria so much is because of its fresh storytelling with a focus on exploration and character growth. It shows that there doesn’t need to be strife or conflict to be a wonderful series. Additionally, it shows that it has masterful control over characters, plot, animation, sound, and enjoyment to the point that it can easily knock most series out of the park with ease.
While there are definitely people who are not used to more laid back series like Aria, which is only natural, it’s undeniable just how well each episode of Aria is crafted and flows into the next episode. In each episode are characters you begin to care about, a town where you find something new every day, and animation and sound that are just leagues above anything of its time. Aria is one of the few series that I’ll never get tired of watching because it’s just so easy to watch and get wrapped up into, and the three episode OVA series of Aria: The Avvenire doesn’t just attempt to recapture the magic of the first three seasons, but recaptures it and makes sure that fans of the old series are not left disappointed in any regard. I never thought that the Aria series needed more to it– I thought it ended perfectly. However, Aria: The Avvenire proved to me that I wasn’t done exploring the town of Neo Venezia and that I never will be. Aria: The Avvenire is a reminder that the Aria series is and will always be an amazing series that stands above the rest. It’s sad to think that this set of OVAs is most likely our last visit to Neo Venezia, but at the very least, it was a fantastic and memorable last ride.
The return to Neo Venezia was an unexpected but extremely welcome one wrapped in nostalgia, warmth, wonder, and everything that made the entire Aria series so fantastic. After Aria the Origination (the third and final season of Aria) I thought there wouldn’t be any more Aria. The Origination ended so perfectly and wrapped everything up in a satisfying manner so that there were no true loose ends left. Everything seemed like it was fine and that there was no need for any continuation of the series. To me, Aria hit the sweet spot where even though you might want more of the series, you know that it ended in a perfect spot, so you don’t want it to be milked any further. It follows that I was very surprised to see that Aria was getting a new three episode OVA series this year. I was excited to know that there’d be more Aria, but I was concerned that it’d do something like my all time favorite Galaxy Angel where they’d focus on the second generation of characters and completely forget about what made the original series so beautiful. Fortunately for me and any fan of Aria, it was a far cry from straying from the magical formula that made it so successful.
Picking up where we left off
Surprisingly, Aria doesn’t just focus on the second generation of characters but evens it out by focusing on everyone in the series. Granted, there were some side characters who were noticeably left out, but every important Undine had their own chance on the screen to wrap up their story once and for all while also exploring how the second generation of Undines were growing under the guidance of their mentors, Aria, Aika, and Alice. It’s shown that both Akari’s generation and Alicia’s generation are busy with their own work and that they can’t hang out with their trio as friends as much as they’d like to. Alicia’s off doing important things with the Undine association and is also married, Athena is frequently asked to perform in addition to being an Undine, and Akira is just as busy as ever with leading Himeya company while also being a first-rate Undine.
Meanwhile Akari is still training Ai while being the head Undine of Aria Company, and Alice and Aika are basically off doing the same thing. Everyone’s busy and barely have any time to meet with each other. Even though they all were able to achieve their dreams, they’re unable to see their friends as much as they’d like, so Aria the Avvenire takes the opportunity to take the show back to its roots and have a trio of Undines in training explore Neo Venizia. In this case, Ai, Anya, and Azusa are the trio who take Akari, Alice, and Aika’s place. Though the three episode OVA series isn’t completely about them, I’d go far enough to say that they’re the main focus of the series. Aria: The Avvenire uses them to show what Akari and everyone else’s lives are like now that they have grown up while showing that Neo Venezia still has some magic left. Even though they do the same activities that the previous trio of Akari, Aika, and Alice, it still feels fresh and new because their group dynamic is different in addition to the fact that they’re exploring new parts of the city.
The Mystery of Discovery
One of the things that made the original Aria series so pleasant to watch was that the town of Neo Venezia was familiar but at the same time steeped in mystery and wonder. It was enjoyable to explore the town with the characters while they discovered areas that they never knew about before while interacting with the other characters in the show and as a result grow as people. The same sense of mystery and the unknown returns in Aria the Avvenire which really surprised me. For an OVA series of an already complete series to not solely focus on fan service and trying to hastily wrap up loose ends and instead expand a little more on what made the original series so amazing is very rare. It’s even more surprising that they were able to come up with more mysteries of Neo Venezia when basically every episode of the three seasons was dedicated to that. It just shows that even though viewers might have a decent grasp of Neo Venezia, just like the characters, we’ll never be done truly exploring the town. Aria the Avvenire just rekindles the excitement and curiosity that the original series instilled within me– there’s something new even in places that you think you know extensively, you just have to look for them.
More than anything, Aria the Avvenire was a way to give one final goodbye to the viewers. There are several heartfelt goodbyes in the series, but one of the most memorable ones is a scene during Alicia’s Birthday. Since it’s her birthday, Akira comes over to Aria company to give her a gift. Unfortunately, she’s taking some very important clients around the town, so she wasn’t going to be back until very late. Akari suggests that they go around town and that they might run into her. Akira agrees but doubts that something that convenient could happen and even if it did, she wasn’t sure that she could interrupt such an important tour. What happens is that in the end, the sun starts to set and Akira just decides to call it quits, so they begin to go back to Aria Company when they see Alicia passing by in front of them. Then at the same time, Athena passes by and begins to sing. She makes sure that she looks at Alicia to make her know that the song is for her birthday. Akira then throws Alicia her present and wishes her a happy birthday, to which Alicia smiles back at the both of them. It was a very touching scene because even in the last season of Aria, it was shown that the three of them were barely able to meet anymore because they were very busy with their own lives. But this scene showed that no matter how separated they are, they always thought of each other and would always be friends. This sentiment of always being friends no matter the distance is not only a very beautiful one, it’s one that Aria likes to use.
When Akari, Alice, and Aika become full fledged Undines they barely have time to meet up with each other, but just like Akira, Alicia, and Athena, they never forget their feelings towards each other and are still great friends no matter what. This is further proved in Aria the Avvenire when Ai, Anya, and Azusa set up a meal in a reserved area for Akira, Alicia, Athena, Akari, Alice, and Aika because they noticed that they were disappointed that they couldn’t meet up anymore. Unfortunately, Athena couldn’t make it because she had a big singing job that day, but she still manages to get up to a window of the building that she’s singing from and sing so that they could hear her, expressing that she’s still with them. It was another very touching moment for the series because it showed that no matter how much the characters mature, how much they change, how much Neo Venezia might change, the one thing that would never change was their bond of friendship. This scene was one of the very last scenes of the anime and a very fitting one because they used that to reflect on the accomplishments of Akari, Alice, and Aika and how even though they’ve changed, their relationships with each other and their teachers (Alicia, Akira, and Athena) never changed.
If there’s one thing you can always count on the Aria series having, it’s beautiful scenery– not just beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous scenery. Even when the third season aired all the way back in 2008, Aria the Origination was one of the most visually stunning anime to air. It took scenery to a whole new level and made it so that every location they showed was depicted realistically and stunningly. It’s because of this great attention to detail that every moment in Aria felt like you were exploring an actual town rather than a fictitious one. Aria the Avvenire keeps up the tradition and kicks it into 2015 high gear with updated visuals of all the places that we saw in the previous seasons and then some new areas. It’s a perfect combination of new and old while also offering old time fans a way to see Neo Venezia in a new, updated light.
One of the things that got me really excited besides the return to Neo Venezia and seeing all the characters I know and loved was the fact that they OVA used the same openings from the previous series and in the same exact way. Aria did something unique where they would roll the opening but have the actual anime playing in the background meaning that it was never the same footage playing during the opening. What accompanied a very soothing and pleasing song was always footage that linked to the actual anime. It was basically a seamless transition from opening into anime that I always found really impressive because most anime do not do that. The only anime that really comes to mind might be Durarara where they cut some scenes from the previous episode into the opening as a sort of a recap, but other than that, I doubt there are that many if any out there that did what Aria did. Hearing the same opening songs as I did from 8+ years ago with updated visuals just hit me right in the feels. It was almost like I was eight years younger and it was just another day of watching Aria. The fact that Aria can still pull me into its world like that is a feat that most anime fail to do.
There are also several events that happened in the previous seasons that are brought back up as part of nostalgia, such as the lantern festival, the Cait Sith, and then certain big scenes from the previous seasons. It was always hit me in the feels when I saw them reliving parts of their past life because the previous seasons of Aria did such an amazing job of making you connect to the characters that their emotions practically become your own. When Akari was able to see the Cait Sith for the last time it was sad because the Cait Sith was able to help her in the past and not being able to see him anymore would be like not being able to see a friend anymore. So when Ai gets to see Cait Sith or at least a glimpse of him, it was almost like seeing the blossoming of something new. So when Akari smiled when Ai told her that she saw Cait Sith, the happiness that she felt from knowing that he was still alive and that Ai might be able to meet her was happiness that I felt as well.
Final Thoughts and Impressions
Aria the Avvenire is the conclusion to a series that I never thought it needed but am genuinely glad happened. What Aria the Avvenire is, is basically more Aria for fans, so I doubt people who aren’t fans of the series will appreciate it or understand just how much this OVA series means to fans like me. If you have watched Aria and loved it as much as I did, hell even if you thought it was ok, I definitely recommend watching Aria the Avvenire. It’s a succinct and nostalgic three episode series that gives fans and anyone who has watched the series closure that they never thought they needed while also providing an overload of nostalgia and feels. I’m sad to see the Aria series go again, but I’m glad that they made Aria the Avvenire for the anime’s 10th anniversary. It was a well done and perfect OVA series to one of my favorite anime of all times.